"If all we want are jobs, we can create any number -- for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs -- jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume." -- Milton Friedman
Barack Obama and the Democratic Party seem to have fallen in love with the idea of "make work" jobs. In other words, they're going to take money from taxpayers and then use it to "create green jobs," work projects, and other marginally useful government programs. Then, to add insult to injury, these very same politicians who've taken the money out of working people's pockets will pat themselves on their backs for being compassionate enough to put people to work.
What shouldn't be missed is the other side of the equation: much of the money paid in taxes to the government would otherwise be spent, thereby creating jobs. Furthermore, since the government is less efficient than private industry and because in most cases, people are better able to fill their own needs with their own money than the government can, the "make work" job process is inherently inefficient.
That's why one of the worst things the government can do, particularly in a recession, is to try to create "jobs programs."
"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." -- Thomas Jefferson
The federal government is inevitably slower, dumber, and less competent than private industry. Moreover, just about every truly catastrophic economic event that has occurred in the last century -- from the depression to the savings and loan crisis to the current housing crisis -- all have at their root government intervention in the market.
That's why the partial nationalization of this country's banks and auto industry should absolutely terrify people. There is absolutely nothing that should make anyone think that an "auto czar" or some other bureaucratic flunky who's answerable to Congress would do anything to help make these businesses more viable over the long-term. It's quite the opposite, actually.
Over the long haul, the more intimately our government is involved in the market, the more damage it will do to our economy.